I just got off the phone with my momma, today is her 85th birthday. As I walked to the barn to turn the horses out, I thought of how proud I am of her and all the amazing things she has done in her life. She has been a wonderful role model, not just to my sister and I and her three grandchildren, but anyone who has taken the time to get to know her over the years.
Momma was a stay at home mom, a housewife, homemaker...it sound's unimportant to some not having a career but Mom is amazing. She cleaned and decorated the house, mowed our huge lawn, irrigated acres with hoses and aluminum pipe and kept the flowerbeds alive in full color as well as a productive garden, which wasn't easy in the high desert. She canned fruits and vegetables and sewed, making awesome clothing for my sister and I or altering an old article giving it new life...somewhat typical homemaker tasks for the times, Wonder Women by todays standards. Minus the pipe irrigating, Mom still does this today.
In addition to her daily duties and caring for us kids, Mom made time to care for herself, alway maintaining her natural feminine beauty with a ritual of hair and skincare. She has always been a fashionista and often looks like a million bucks just to go to the grocery store...all this and so much more.
Momma molded her girls to be feminine yet tough. A friendly but competitive baseball game was never off the table. She showed us that we could do anything the boys could do, often better, just don't brag about it. Mom is so talented at so many things. I'm blessed to be her daughter. I have seen her get a fishhook caught in her hand then grit her teeth and push it on through to get it out. Then she dressed the wound and continued fishing. She rode and competed on horses and motorcycles, having some of the most epic falls and crashes but always getting back on. She can shoot a rifle with accuracy with the best of them, something she learned from my Dad. She taught me to track a wounded deer and elk. She has quartered elk and skinned more deer than I can count. She's a talented artist, having painted some beautiful landscape and animal portraits on commission. She sings like a songbird having taught me three part harmony when I was young. She played lead guitar and sang in our family band.
My mom still hunts today, having harvested her deer this year. She hikes as much as her asthma allows but always enjoys getting out there in the wilderness to appreciate God's creations. I know I'm missing other amazing things she has done in her 85 years, in addition to being the greatest grandma, Mom has molded me into the person I am today. Thank you Momma, I love who I am because of you. I love to laugh with you and be silly with you and explore with you but most of all thank you for being a perfect Mother who allowed us to make choices and mistake along our journey and for always being there when we did.
I love you Momma. Happy 85th Birthday. It's been said "Your Mom is freaking amazing. " And I have to agree.
Love, your youngest and most attractive, but not the smarted, daughter. (wink, wink).
The day started out like any other June morning as I left my home at 8:30 a.m. to begin the 45 minute drive to the dentist. The sun was already shining brightly overhead as I leisurely drove the old hi-way taking in the rural scenery. “I’m so glad to be getting rid of this thing,” I thought as I run my tongue over my back molar. With the exception of hating dental appointments I was glad to be replacing the irritating temporary crown for a slick shiny golden one.
I’d missed the early work commuter traffic so the road was as clear as the summer sky. I hadn’t seen another vehicle since I’d left the house five miles back, until I neared the weird six-way intersection. It was a dark green Jeep traveling in the opposite direction as me. I didn’t give it any thought. As I approached the funky junction, the Jeep slowly started to turn directly in front of me. “Whoa,” a flash of fear washed over me bringing back memories from seven years earlier on the same road when a Jeep ran the stop sign causing Dennis to put our Taurus through the fence into a hay field preventing a horrible collision but resulting in a total loss of our car. Since that accident I have marveled at how God directed our car that evening, placing it perfectly between two wooden fence posts with only a 1/4 of an inch of clearance on each side. We walked away unscathed.
Now with two hands gripping the steering wheel, I lifted my foot from the throttle as my mind quickly thought of what I would do if the Jeep didn’t stop or straighten upon seeing me, which I fully expected. “I could swerve to the left to keep from hitting her. I thought. “No, that would not be good,” a voice in my head answered. Swerve to the right.” Immediately as my car entered the intersection at nearly 60 mph I did as I was told and cranked the steering wheel hard to the right as the Jeep continued unhurried into my path. Deflecting the impact, it hit my car in the driver side door—thrusting my body sideways as glass shattered and flew like wind driven rain inside my car. “Oh sh#*!” I yelled. Anger consumed me with the thought of being forced to replace my perfectly good Taurus, again. My car spun a circle backwards in the middle of the empty side street staying on the pavement, and then began a second spin. I threw my hands into the air to let the car find its own way. Time seemed to stand still, “I’m still spinning.” “YOU BETTER STOP BEING ANGRY AND START PRAYING!” the voice yelled just as I felt the car hit the gravel and leave the smooth pavement onto the bumpy dirt. “Oh God, Oh God, OH GOD,” I cried out in fear of flipping, as a tidal wave of dirt engulfed the car and gas fumes filled the air. Then all was calm. I held out my hands in front of me, palms up, turning them over looking at them in disbelief I said, “I’m ok. Thank you Jesus.”
That was a year and a half ago. There were no visible injuries that day but the accident took its toll on my inner body and mind. I haven’t been myself since. Therapy has helped and I get stronger each month. I thank God for my husband and his willingness to carry my load. Though I appear healthy and strong I have had to learn to ask for help and explain my rattled, confused and forgetful thoughts to strangers because that’s what therapy has taught. I wasn’t the brightest star in the sky before the accident but my light still shines—just a little dimmer. I’m grateful for the voice in my head and the guidance He provided that saved two lives on what started out as any other sunny summer day.
Count your many blessings and name them one by one, and in everything give thanks.
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.
Years ago Daddy mentioned to my mother that he kept seeing the number sequence of 444. He told her that he saw it in various places, often on the clock but also in less obvious places, like the grocery store or on license plates. He didn't know the significance of it but he knew it held a special meaning.
After Daddy passed away in 2001, Mom shared the story with my sister and I and our children. She said that since Dad's death, she too now noticed the number sequence of 444 often. We thought it was cool that she had that memory and no matter what she was doing, when she saw the numbers 444 she thought of her husband of 42 years.
My sister and her children as well as my daughter Michelle and I have continued to see the number sequence and will call out "444" or text 444 to each other when we see it. I can't say how many times a week I randomly pick up my cell phone to message my daughter and the time is 4:44, and as I hit the SEND button my phone chimes with an incoming message from Michelle with nothing more than the numbers "444".
Last June I was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident that totaled my car and forced me to buy a new one. I suffered from PTSD every time I got behind the wheel and hated driving the new car so I let Michelle drive it and I drove her pick-up truck for months. I eventually started driving the car little by little and a short time later I got in the car and noticed the mileage read 4444.4. At that moment I felt relief and knew Daddy was with me and he would safely guide my way.
Today while dozing in front of the TV during the Dr. Oz Show my interest was sparked at the topic of Angels. The guest spoke of the meaning and significant of number sequences like 111, 555 and 444. She said that 444 means that "Angels are Guiding You". Now it makes so much sense to me. Daddy first noticed the 444 while his health was rapidly declining. The Angles were guiding him as he strengthened his faith in Jesus and even requested that the message of salvation be offered at his own memorial service.
I have wondered why I so often see 444...it always brings a smile to my face...now I am blessed with the answer and will be reminded whenever I see it that the Angels are Guiding Me and my family.
My creative wheels begin to spin as I glance at the sheet of paper I am handed.
"You must use every letter and all the pictures and symbols listed on the page to create your story," the teacher instructed as he continued to hand out the assignment. "You will have three minutes to complete it beginning...now."
Feeling confident and excited to begin, I pick up my pencil to write. I got this, I thought, I'm a writer, this is gonna be good. My enthusiasm quickly turns to concern when I realize I don't' have any paper. Looking around the room at bowed heads and busy pencils I search for my notepad. All I can find is a tablet of hot pink paper. I can't use pink, the letters won't show up written in pencil and the teacher won't be able to read the words!
The sound of working pencils and ink flowing across paper fills the room as everyone else works. With Adrenalin fueled panic I frantically rummage around the classroom desperately searching for paper to begin the assignment. I can't ask another student for paper! Time is running out. I look at the teacher standing at the front of the room. He is glaring at me expressionless under dark rimmed glasses.
"I don't have paper! I can't use the pink, the letters won't show up!" I plead. Still no paper is offered up in my desperation. The teacher remains silent.
"Time is up," the teacher announces a second later, "put down your pencils."
"No!," I plead, "I didn't even get to start...I didn't have any paper." I begin to cry. I can't believe that I will get a failing grade on this assignment because I was unable to complete it, or begin it for that matter all because I had no paper and no one offered to give me any. I am so upset because...I'm a writer. The tears begin to trickle down my face as the students turn in their paper and leave the room. I sob because I am a writer and I have published a book. Then I awaken... and wipe the tears from my cheek.
The golden years...who ever came up with that term should be flogged. I have more aches then I ever did in my forties. I don't get any senior discounts yet my mailbox gets flooded with hearing aid ads and AARP flyers. To add insult to injury I visited my doctor recently because of a consistent stomach ache. My self diagnosis is acid reflux and maybe the beginning of an ulcer but I figured when the Over-the-Counter Purple Pill didn't do the job I better get a professional opinion.
I knew what he was going to say. I had heard it before.
"So how old are you know?" the doc asks.
"Just turned 52," I answered. Oh here it comes, I could read his mind.
"Oh," seeing my birthday was just last week he said, "well happy birthday,"
"Let's see, " he said as he read over my chart on his laptop..."Have you..."
Wait for it...wait for it...
..."had a colonoscopy yet?"
BAM...there it was. I knew he was gonna say that.
"No," I answered.
"Well here's what I'm gonna do," he said "I'm gonna order an upper and a lower scoping to see if you have an ulcer."
"Great I said." I'm just loving this guy. At least I get a discount for doing them both at the same time.
Well the day has come and I have been preparing for the last two days. A liquid diet of chicken broth and orange jello (no red colors allowed). Plus a lovely beverage of Movi-prep. Where do they come up with the names of this stuff. It tastes like Alkocelcer Plus on steroids. All 64 ounces of the stuff.
Years ago after the birth of my daughter I had to have reconstructive surgery to repair damage of her ripping her way into the World. I had to drink this stuff then too, only it was called Go Litely. What an understatement.
Well by now you probably have figured out that after drinking the Movi-prep beverage you won't be going to the movies. You won't be going far from home at all. In fact, I soon realized that the hall from my living room where the TV is was way too long to the "facility". So I decided to work in my office instead. Well it is too far away also so I moved my office into "the office" if you get my drift.
So with not too many options of what one can do to pass the time when prepping for a colonoscopy I came up with several ideas...I have a new book concept called...Diaries from the Throne.
I am also thinking of Native American names for myself...tell me what you think.
She Who Runs Quickly, or She Who Runs Slowly (both which are pretty accurate)
She Who Sits Upon the Throne
Sitting Bull (oh that one is already taken, darn) What about a different version? Maybe Shi**ing Bull? No, not that one.
Actually all of these could work as book titles too.
Well I guess I'd better quit for now and get ready for my photo session. I want to look my best so I can post pictures on Facebook.
My daughter is a sales associate at a big cell phone company; she came home from work last night and wanted to share about her day. I could tell by the tone of her voice that this was going to be a story of a good day and not the usual about how rude customers were. It touched my heart so I want to share with you.
["A little elderly man came into the store today. He said his wife had just died last week and he was having trouble with his phone. He was very pleasant, which surprised me due to the fact his wife had just died so recently. Most people are angry and let everyone around them know it. But this guy was different. He was very pleasant.
Fortunately I was able to fix his issue without much problem. He thanked me then said "Can I share with you how my wife died?"
Surprised by his request and a little skeptical I said, "Sure," seeing his need to share.
"Well she slept for three days straight, didn't wake up at all," he said. I gathered that she must have been at home with in home care.
" I heard her talking in her sleep, it sounded like she was arguing with someone. Then she just woke up and sat straight up in the bed. Every wrinkle was gone from her face. Looking up she reached up towards the ceiling with both her arms outstretched....then she was gone."
Tears filled my eyes as he told me his story. Then he went on to say, "You know, it's important to be right with the Lord."
"I know," I replied.
"You do?" he said.
"Yes, I do," I answered fighting to hold back the tears.
"Well that's wonderful. Then you must have really appreciated that story?" he replied.
"Yes, I did. Thank you so much for sharing it with me." I walked him to the door and then ran to the bathroom before the flood waters hit."]
My heart was filled with joy that this grieving man took the time to share such a personal intimate story with my daughter. I know God selected her to hear it. I truly believe they needed each other. Michelle was touched by his calm manor and joy after such a recent lose and I know the man was uplifted by sharing and blessed by hearing Michelle's answer.
Take time to share with a stranger or have the time to listen. It just might make your day.
Recently I met a gentleman from my neighborhood at an open house. We exchanged pleasantries and made small talk. During our brief conversation I mentioned seeing something on Facebook and his reply caught me by surprise. He looked at me with what appeared to be judgement and said with a snicker "You use Facebook?"
"Yes", I awkwardly replied, feeling a little shameful like I just got caught reading Fifty Shades of Grey...which I have never read by the way.
"Hmm," he said, then he kind of chuckled giving me an disapproving look.
"I'm am author so I go on Facebook for that," I said, as if I owed this stranger an explanation.
"Ooh," he said nodding his head. "There's nothing wrong with Facebook", he stammered, " I just don't have the time to spend on there." Apparently he thinks I do. And what makes him think I spend a lot of time on there?
Later while I was cleaning my stalls and shoveling horse shi*poo, I thought about his comments and I came to this conclusion...I am not ashamed. I admit that I use Facebook.
My name is Sherrie Gant, and I am a Facebook user.
I usually use Facebook on a daily basis, sometimes more than once.
I often lose track of time when I am perusing Facebook.
I stroll through the news feed seeing what others are doing and what they have posted.
I often comment on Others postings.
I occasionally share things I see on Facebook.
Sometimes I judge others based on what they post for all to see.
Sometimes I delete what others have posted because I just don't want to see it or I don't agree with it.
I often click on others photos to see what they are doing and who they are doing it with.
I am a Facebook Creeper, but I am not ashamed.
Without Facebook I would not be able to see what my family and friends see when they travel the World or just visit the Oregon Coast.
I would not be able to experience last nights beautiful sunset or feel the wrath of a storm.
I wouldn't know when someone is expecting their first child, in or out of wedlock or when someone has just become a new grandparent.
I would not know how my Japanese exchange family are doing or see how their daughter has grown.
I wouldn't be able to visit Australia or Paris or Spain or go on a cruise without leaving my living-room.
Facebook allows me to keep in touch with people from my past that I would never see again or speak to. I am able to feel apart of their lives and know what they are currently up too. It allows me to keep in touch with family and friends that I never see because they live across the Pond, in another State, across town or just across the street from me. It enables me to get to know people better many whom I have only met briefly.
Facebook allows me to feel others pain, sorrow, frustrations and joy. And gives me the opportunity to pray for them or congratulate them. And it often lifts my spirits. It makes me laugh. Sometimes it makes me cry. And sometimes it reminds me that I am loved...through a shared scripture verse. A funny picture or video or a touching story is always appreciated.
Facebook makes me feel connected with the outside World and many people that I am proud to call friends. Some of those people whom I have never met but I have gotten to know through Facebook.
I appreciate Facebook and I declare that I am not ashamed to admit that ...
My name is Sherrie Gant and I Am A Facebook User.
The cool morning breeze brushed across my face as I clutched the warm ceramic of my morning latte. Movement caught my eye drawing it upward looking towards the rising sun. I wouldn't have noticed it if the wind hadn't moved it just as it captured the sun's glistening ray of light. It's back, I thought. I had just swept it away with the swipe of a broom two days earlier. Buts its owner and creator quickly re-built. I'm amazed at how something so delicate can be so strong--how it weathered last nights storm with wind gust powerful enough to topple a heavy lawn chair yet this delicate architecture remains intact. Rain beat the roof like percussion at a rock concert, yet the structure remains strong and untouched. Each tiny fiber so thin--carefully and strategically woven into place to create such beauty and purpose, held only into place by a few carefully placed strands of fiber. No one is home or occupying this artful creation--as they were absent at the time of my sweeping. The builder rebuilt after my destruction showing such determination for survival. Much like the barn swallows that rebuild their mud nests time and time again after my husband so dutifully knocks them to the floor before their families arrive. Their will and determination amazes me. I think I'll leave the broom inside today and marvel at this beautiful piece of artwork--a natural dream-catcher I'll accept as a gift from a determined little spider.
I heard the commotion as I sat on the porch sipping my morning coffee. The cool 58 degree air was a nice reprieve from the 70 degree night that interrupted my sleep. I scanned the yard looking from tree to tree in search of the source of his chatter. Finally I saw the pine branch shake and I spotted him half way up. Not a bird as I first thought but to my pleasant surprise a grey squirrel. Yeah, I thought, finally a squirrel to add to my backyard wildlife collection. I have mule deer, great horned owls, Canadian geese, mallard ducks, quail and several other species of birds, but for 30 years at this place I have never had a squirrel. I had an occasional chipmunk, but unfortunately their lifespan was short due to the cat.
The squirrel reminds me of my childhood, growing up with a huge yard filled with poplar trees, elm and an old apple tree that my sister and I used to climb. We had one giant poplar tree out front right by the side walk that was so big my sister and I together could not encircle it's rugged trunk with our arms. We called it the King Tree. It was home base for hide-and-seek and provided shade for Dad's pickup and us with piles of leaves every fall. Families of silver grey squirrels lived in our trees. They would sit on the branches and chirp and bark at us when we passed by. Their huge fluffy feather duster tails stood up and vibrated when they barked at our old dog Blackie. He always chased them when he discovered them scampering along the ground. They often jumped from tree to tree to avoid the risk. But once they discovered that Blackie was nearly blind, they would scurry across the open yard in front of him then stop and chirp at him playing a little game of blind mans bluff, once the chase began they would hop up on the top rail of the fence and sit there chattering as if laughing at him as he ran around the trees in search of the pesky varmints.
One day we were sitting on the porch helping Momma snap green beans and shelling peas she had just picked from her garden. We noticed a huge grey squirrel sprawled out on his belly on a large limb basking in the heat--his feet dangled over the thick branch. Minutes later...THUD! We looked up from our bowl of snapped beans to see the squirrel laying lifeless on the grass.
"Oh no! He fell off the branch. I think he's dead!" I cried. Blackie jumped from the porch and headed towards King Tree. The squirrel jumped up looking puzzled, shook it off then quickly scurried back up the tree.
Seeing this squirrel today in my own back yard has stirred up some fond childhood memories. He is silent now, but I can still see his furry grey body curled into a ball sleeping on the small branch of the pine tree.
"Careful little squirrel, my dog Bear is old, but he isn't blind yet.
My heart pounded as I stared into the unfamiliar darkness as two strange men in hooded sweatshirts headed our way. I nervously stayed from sight as they approached him from behind. With my courage wrapped in trembling hands I tightened the grip and prayed.
I’m a country girl, a native, raised in Central Oregon. Growing up in Bend, surrounded by lakes and forests with abundant wildlife, the only place my family ever vacationed was hunting and fishing, and then it was practically right in our own backyard. After I married Dennis, we traveled a little but never ventured far. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought 10 years later, life would bring us here, to this unfamiliar, foreign place where I now stood on a bridge in the Bronx in fear, clutching a .357 revolver as if my life depended on it, and at that moment, I believed it did.
The hum of the diesel engine filled the cab as Dennis and I bounced down the dark Interstate without talking. It had been a long day and it was getting late. We wanted to park for the night but we had to get through the city before we stopped to avoid morning rush hour traffic. The horses we hauled had all been fed and watered hours earlier but they too were likely ready for us to stop, allowing them to relax and sleep before reaching their delivery destination the following afternoon. The large custom eleven-horse trailer had ample room for each horse to comfortably sleep without laying down which horses only need to do every few days. I glanced at the road atlas to see what our options were.
“Once we get past the city we should be able to stop. There has to be a shopping mall or a truck stop we can park in for the night,” I said as I checked the map and found a nearby place to shoot for.
“Uh oh, that isn’t good.” Dennis said with concern in his voice as he glanced down at his foot on the throttle, tapping it to the floor.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Something’s wrong with the throttle, I think the throttle cable just broke,” he said.
As the truck began to slow, Dennis steered for the shoulder.
“Oh no, what are we gonna do?” I said with concern.
“Maybe I can jury rig it to get us by. I can probably fix it temporarily with some wire.” Dennis assured me.
After a few minutes under the hood Dennis climbed back in and started the truck. He pressed on the gas pedal and the engine accelerated. “I think that’ll work.” But we quickly learned that the problem wasn’t solved. We couldn’t gain any speed, but we were moving along slowly. Thankfully there was little traffic due to the late hour.
“What now?” I asked.
“Once we get across the bridge there should be a safe place to pull over so I can try and fix it, hopefully at a service area that has some lights,” he said.
We crossed over the George Washington Bridge that expands across the Hudson River and separates the state of New Jersey from New York. Soon after we entered the Bronx we rolled into a service area. Not a service station like we were used to out west but a wide spot in the road with a small building that contained public restrooms, a gas pump and a pay phone. Everything was shut down for the night and the lights in the pullout area were dim. There was no one around.
“I don’t like this one bit,” I told Dennis as he hopped out of the tall semi-truck’s cab.
“Oh it’ll be alright. It’s well lit and it shouldn’t take me long to fix it. Wire will hold until tomorrow then we can replace the part.” As Dennis shut the door behind him, I climbed through the crawl-through window into the large sleeper so he could tip the cab of the truck forward to access the engine. The truck was a UD cab-over made by Nissan, we always joked that UD stood for ugly diesel and right now it was living up to the name. I handed him a flashlight so he could see as he worked under the dark hood. I glanced at my watch, 12:03 am. Oh my, it’s late.
“Do you need me to hold that?” I asked, referring to the flashlight.
“No it’s good lying here, I can see.” I was relieved he didn’t need my help, out there. I wanted to stay out of sight in the dark living quarters and keep watch. I reached in the drawer and pulled out the handgun and laid it on the counter. Then I sat down on the edge of the bed next to our sleeping baby daughter, and nervously watched out the window as Dennis worked bent over under the hood. A car slowly pulled into the lot up next to the closed service building. My heart fluttered as two men dressed in dark clothing stepped out of the car and began to walk towards our truck. I quickly stuck my head out the crawl-through and quietly told Dennis, “Two guys are coming this way.” He looked up and saw they held a small gas can in their hand. I reached down and picked up the pistol and removed it from the leather holster. My heart pounded with fear as I anxiously watched them approach in the darkness. As the two men moved toward Dennis, they split up, each approaching him from a different side. Oh my God, I thought. Why are they doing that? What are they gonna do? They probably saw our Oregon license plates and this big fancy horse trailer and think we’re carrying cash. They were right; however most of the money we carried was personal checks from clients, payment for delivering their horses on this trip.
As the two men moved towards Dennis in the dark, one on each side of the truck, I stepped up to the crawl-through with the revolver firmly in my grip. Making my presence known; I stuck the barrel of the .357 magnum through the opening. The guys mumbled something to Dennis that I couldn’t quite make out their words.
“No, we don’t, sorry,” Dennis replied. “There is a small town up ahead not to far though,” Dennis added as he pointed in the direction we were headed. Then the two dark figures walked back to their car and got in. With great relief, but still holding the Smith and Wesson, I asked, “What did they ask you?”
“They said they were out of gas, and asked if I had any.”
“It’s a diesel truck, why would we have gas?” I said as I watched them pull away.
“They just went back the way they came from! The nearest town is in front of us. I don’t think they needed any gas.” I said, with relief they were gone.
“Are you almost finished?”
“Yep, I fixed it, with a piece of baling wire. It should hold until we can locate a UD dealer and buy a new cable,” Dennis said as he lowered the cab and latched it shut.
“Let’s get out of here. I don’t like this place.” I said as I crawled headfirst through the hole, over the infant car seat, back into the cab.
“Me neither,” Dennis agreed as he settled into the driver’s seat and started up the noisy diesel engine. “Thank you Jesus,” we both said as the truck accelerated and we gained speed, and safely headed on our way.
* * * * *
This was one of the top 10 winning entries to the CO Writers Guild 2012 Literary Harvest Contest.
Sherrie Gant is a writer, photographer, and